One of the places most talked about by expats in the Philippines is the Immigration Office. Certainly expats seem to like to moan about everything which exasperates me considerably but there seems t be a general consensus about Immigration and it s not good. I shall attempt to deal with the intricacies of the visa situation in a general Philippines page tip but I will give you the specifics of the Dumaguete office here.
For most overseas arrivals, you will have a visa waiver for 21 days. Alternatively, if you are like me and have taken the time, trouble and expense at home you will have a 59 day visa which they totally ignored in Manila airport unbeknown to me. This caused some hassle but not as much as I was expecting.
Your first big problem is finding the place, which can somewhat of an expedition as it is pretty well hidden. The postal address is Door # 8 Lu Pega Bldg. 38 Dr. V. Locsin Street. As you can see from the photo, it is sandwiched in the same building as the beauty salon, the travel agent, the dental supplier and the pawnshop. Frankly, you may need to pawn something to afford the ludicrous fees but enough of that. To give you some markers, try this. It is easiest to start directions from the Boulevard as everyone knows that. Go up the road beside the Honeycomb Inn at the South end. You cannot miss it, it is huge. This road is V. Locsin Street. Go across two road junctions, the second being the busy main road. You should have the large Unitop shop on the left and the Immigration office is a few yards further on on the right. Go into the corridor shown and it is down on the left.
When you have braved the carnage that normally constitutes working hours in here, filled forms etc., you will have to get photocopies. Apparently, the staff here cannot do it and charge you for the prvelege. Not to worry as very conventiently in the beauty salon almost directly opposite there is a photocopier and they are well used to doing this stuff. Just hand them your papers and passport and they know exactly what to do. It is only about 5 pesos per copy. I would be prepared to bet money that it is owned by some relative of one of the senior immigration officers. Such are things in this country. Back then to the office, wait again and eventually you sohuld get what you need. In fairness, whilst eventually dealing with the lady there I found her pleasant enough, I think they are just understaffed.
Allow a good amount of time to conduct your transactions here. I know it may not be in your power but I am told the month of January is particularly bad as a certain type of visa has to be renewed then and it has an even worse than normal workload.
Update June 2013.
One of the very many things I love about VT is how much absolutely up to date travel information you can access. Following an earlier discussion about Immigration matters in the Philippines with VT member TrendsetterME, he was kind enough the send me a fascinating internet article and here it is. It appears the Bureau of Immigration has finally relented and is now (as of June 2013) offering six month tourist visas. I don't know the exact details so, as always, check with your local Philippino Embassy as to your eligibility etc. In light of what I wrote above, this will be a great boon for the longer term traveller to this wonderful country.
Unique Suggestions: Ther is really only one rule here and that is not to lose your temper no matter how frustrated you get. It will get you nowhere and probably only slow you doen further. Remember, you are totally at the mercy of the officials here. I have heard anecdotally about someone actually being escorted at gunpoint from the place by the armed guard on the door.
Fun Alternatives: There is no real suggestion as to an alternative as you will need to deal with Immigration at some point if you are staying a while. I would offer one suggestion on how to make it easier on yourself although it will cost you a few pesos, in my opinion money well spent.
Go to a travel agency and have them sort it for you. The normal fee is 300 pesos. I am sure there are plenty of them around but most expats here use the one in the back of Whynot? bar / restaurant on the Boulevard. Ask anyone where it is, it is really famous and everyone knows it. Speak to Lily, the middle aged lady. The young girl there is very helpful but either does not have the ability or authority to do things herself. As with most things Philippino, it is not what you know but who you know and the Whynot? people seem to be well connected with Immigration. I mentioned easrlier that I ended up having to visit the office myself due to an irregularity on my stamp so they kindly only charged me 200. Most people don't even have to go to the place, the agent takes all your documents and they will 'phone you when everything is processed, you just go and pick your stuff up from the agency.
If 300 pesos is outside your budget, prepare for a long day!
These days they answer "Php2500 with driver and Php1800 without" when you ask how much. P1800 means the gas is on you. But they don't say this rate is for 24 hours.
Unique Suggestions: If your trip covers a halfday or less, insist on a discount, although they won't go below P1500.
Fun Alternatives: Bike hires, but take a guide along. Tricycle (dust and noise, no AC). Bus with AC, but these leave the terminal hourly.
When you step off the ferry you wiwll be met by a large number of touts. Most downtown hotels are only a short distance away, so negotiate the price of a tricycle - 50 is excessive but normal. In particular, if you let them carry your bag to the tricycle, they will want extra money. A lot.
Generally speaking, Dumaguete seemed the rip-off capital of the region.
Lipayo, Dauin, Negros Oriental, Dumaguete, Negros, 6217, Philippines
Good for: Business
Washington Road, Dumaguete, Negros, 6200, Philippines
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
Banilad, Dumaguete City, 6200, Philippines
Good for: Solo